If you’re just getting started selling ‘royalty-free’ stock footage and you’d like to know where to upload your content, here are my top picks for 2010. The following sites are listed in order of who, on average pays me the most each month – starting with the top 3:
#1 Pond5. – New York City, New York, USA.
Payout: 50% of product price. Artist sets product price. No upper price limit.
Products for sale: Footage, Audio FX and Music.
Pond5 consistently pulls in the sales and with a 50% commission rate they’ve almost always been my top monthly earner. In fact, since I started selling stock footage back in June 2008, P5 has been no.1 for 20 out of 24 months!
Pond5 is unique in that it has no upper pricing limit – so if you have specialized footage that you think is worth a couple of grand, you can sell it here.
PROS: Great payout rate at 50%. No upper pricing limit. Helpful community. Easy upload and keywording process. Fast (within a week) file approval. FTP always works.
CONS: Unlike istock and shutterstock, Pond5 does not automatically scale HD and SD footage down to smaller web sizes, which can mean lost sales. Also the maximum allowable amount of keywords for each clip on Pond5 is 25 words – which for some clips, can be on the lean side.
#2 Shutterstock – NYC, New York, USA.
Payout: 26.5% to 30% of product price. Agency sets product price.
Products for sale: Footage (available for sale in original res. and smaller web sizes), Photos, Vector graphics.
Another NYC based agency, Shutterstock has always brought in the sales. There are some frustrations with SS – they reject a lot of my content – but overall I like this place. They’re definitely one to include in the mix. Though they usually come in third for me each month (in terms of dollars in the door), I’m placing them second because they’re easier to deal with than #3!
PROS: Good looking site with high quality footage content. Helpful community. Easy upload and keywording process.
CONS: Low commission rates. FTP performance is varied. Various bugs and glitches in the site’s code can be tedious ie. when keywording file descriptions that use “quotation marks”, you get weird extra characters that are generated – which then have to be erased.
#3 istock – Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (owned by media giant – Getty).
Payout: 30% of product price for non-exclusive contributors* Note this previously posted commission for istock was incorrect. Comission rates for non-exclusive contributors in 2010 at istock were between 15% and 20% based on number of sales. Rates for exclusive contributors in 2010 were between 25% and 45%. See schedule here: http://www.istockphoto.com/rate_schedule.php
Products for sale: Footage (available for sale in original res. and smaller web sizes), Sound FX, Music, Photographs, Vector graphics.
The wait time to get footage approved at istock is the longest in the biz – currently at about 5 weeks. istock also has the most complicated uploading process, and though it was developed to better organize content on istock’s servers, its not doing any favours for submitters – especially to those starting out. Despite the frustrations of working with this site and the relatively low percentage payout (vs. Pond5’s 50%), istock spends more money on marketing than anyone else. This means more buyers see your work, which translates into more sales.
PROS: istock is a beautiful looking site. It also comes with some very clever features that help buyers find what they want. (ie. Buyers can search based on colour or textspace requirements. As well there’s the ‘BestMatch’ keyword search system that allows buyers to give more relevancy to certain keywords in their searches). Thanks to Getty’s involvement (who own the site) there are also serious marketing dollars pushing istock, so you get lots of eyeballs on your work.
CONS: Low commission rates. Longest wait in the industry to get content approved (As of this writing on June 14, 2010 it takes 5 weeks to get work approved). Time-consuming to upload and keyword. Technical glitches – ie. at the time of this writing FTP and thumbnail generation is not working. Non-exclusives* are limited to uploading 20 video files a week.
Other sites to consider:
#4. Revostock. – Dallas, Texas, USA
Payout: 45% of product price. Artist sets product price.
Products for sale: Stock Footage (available for sale in original resolution only), Adobe After Effects Projects, Sound FX, Music, Photographs, Vector graphics.
Based in Dallas, Texas, I’ve not had a huge amount of sales at Revostock – mainly because I’ve had a real challenge FTP’ing my work to this agency. Not sure why, and its something I’ve never been able to solve (even with plenty of help from Craig at Revostock) – but I do like Revostock and plan to send them a hard-drive of video-clips later this year. They also pay 45% to their non-exclusive contributors.
PROS: Slick looking site, Revostock’s landing page always looks good. Helpful and responsive support. Upload process is easy. 45% payout for non-exclusive contributors*.
CONS: Not as many sales as the ‘big 3’ – but still worth the effort.
#5 mediastock – Okotoks, Alberta, Canada.
Payout: 60% of product price. Artist sets product price.
Products for sale: Footage, Adobe AE Projects, 3D Models, Photos, Vector graphics, Music and Sound FX.
This is a brand new agency that just sprang up this year. Mediastock calls itself the ‘ultimate media marketplace’ – selling everything from footage to vector graphics. From a stock footage producer’s perspective, I like mediastock because they have incorporated some of the best features from other sites – which means that uploading content is smooth and intuitive. The site functions well and looks good. Because they’re a new site – they don’t yet have the numbers to make them a major player (as of this writing they have 8000 products vs. Pond5’s 410,000), but the stockfootage community has embraced them and content on the site increases daily. Keep an eye on mediastock.ca – I think they’ll be a contender. Please note – due to low (ie. zero) sales at mediastock.ca – i’m no longer recommending this site. For more info please check my “Best Places to Sell Stock Footage in 2011” post coming soon.
PROS: 60% payout one of the highest in the industry. Good looking and well laid out site. Intuitive upload process.
CONS: Mediastock is brand new – meaning they don’t yet have the content to give buyers the variety they’re used to at other sites.
#6 alwaysHD – Mobile, Alabama, USA
Payout: 50% of product price. Artist sets product price. No upper pricing limit.
Products for sale: Footage (available for sale in orig. resolution only).
Although alwaysHD has a great 50% payout and have produced some sales for me, I’m frustrated by the lack of movement on this site. According to their owner – Carlton Wilkins, they’ve had numerous technical issues, which has caused uploading challenges for artists (myself included). We’ll see how this site fares in the future. I’d like to see them do well, but in my opinion they’ll really have to pull their socks up if they want to remain popular with submitters.
PROS: 50% payout. No upper pricing limit.
CONS: Technical issues have challenged AlwaysHD, which have in turn challenged contributors.
I haven’t really had a chance to work much with ClipCanvas – but I’m including them on this list, because I’ve heard from other contributors that they’ve made sales here. ClipCanvas is also the only European site I’ve listed. When you make a sale on ClipCanvas you’re paid in Euros – which is kind of cool.
My one gripe with ClipCanvas is that it has never been an easy or intuitive site to upload content to. I did manage to get 10 video clips up onto ClipCanvas over a year ago, but because of the awkward interface, decided to direct my energy (and content) elsewhere. I DO plan to send them a hard-drive of my work later in the year, and will report on my success (or failure?) in an upcoming post.
PROS: 60% payout one of the best in the industry. ClipCanvas is also enthusiastic and helpful. When I first started working with them, they offered to mail me a hard-drive so I could send them content. They were one of the first stock footage companies to embrace Twitter.
CONS: Challenging interface & upload process. Design-wise, i find the yellow font on dark grey background, doesn’t make for an easy read.
*(Note: All the payout rates listed here are based on having a non-exclusive agreement with each site. You CAN opt for being exclusive and make an extra 10% or so if you stay at one place, but in my opinion that makes no sense. You’ll miss out on sales everywhere else. “There’s no point putting all your eggs in one basket”, as they say).
Please feel free to ask me questions and/or leave a comment. Your feedback is appreciated.
Thanks for reading.
Robert aka orbitrob
Help me maintain this blog! :
If you find this information helpful and you end up submitting your work to Pond5, Mediastock and/or Revostock, please mention orbitrob (that’s me) as your referrer. On Shutterstock you can mention my referrer code which is: 206494. By mentioning me as your referrer, I’ll make a little money – which I can use to maintain this blog and keep doing what i enjoy most – shooting and selling stock footage!